How To Layer In Summer

Among the many pleasures of summer is being completely free from the heavy layers of winter clothing that protected you from chill winds and freezing temperatures. All those bulky sweaters, coats and turtlenecks have now been swapped out for breathable, lightweight clothing. Though it can be tempting to pare down to a single layer and keep it at that until the first crisp days of fall, don't discard layering altogether in the warm months. Adding layers to your summer wardrobe can fend off unexpected chills and elevate your look when the usual summer garb starts feeling humdrum. Read on to learn how to layer when temperatures rise and you'll stay cool and fashionable all season — no sweat.

Why Wear Layers In Summer?

For comfort: Conditions can be changeable in any season, and the summer months are no exception. If you leave the house early in the morning before the dew has burned off the grass, more than a light tank may be in order. Later in the day, when you head out for lunch or afternoon errands, the heat can hit you like an oppressive wall. But come evening, temperatures usually drop back down again as the sun dips beneath the horizon. And, of course, there are manufactured changes in temperature to contend with throughout the day, such as in office and retail store environments where the air conditioning feels as though it's been set to subarctic. Layering helps you manage these sometimes extreme variations with aplomb.

For style: Layering mixes up your look and adds panache to sultry weather outfits. With light layers thrown over your favorite tees and tanks, or wrapped around a sundress or chinos, you'll look your best despite the heat and humidity's best efforts to make you feel like a bedraggled mess. Layering in summer can also be comforting, like that little corner of bedsheet you still keep over your feet even in the sweltering heat.

Tips For Summer Layering

Easy On/Easy Off: The key to layering in warm weather is the ability to put on and remove layers with ease. Good layering options for both men and women include lightweight cardigans left unbuttoned, linen jackets, or lightweight blazers. If the temperatures rise, these can simply be thrown over your shoulders or wrapped around your waist until called into service again.

Think Lightweight: When the weather is sultry, every layer should be made of fabrics that breathe and move. Think linen, cotton, jersey, silk, chambray, chiffon, seersucker, and georgette. These fabrics minimize the heat on scorching days and allow any passing breezes to cool your skin. Keep in mind, any fabric can trap heat if densely woven, so make sure it feels lightweight and airy. Try holding the fabric up to the light to make sure the knit is open enough to let light (and air) through.

Think Loose: When layering, you want your summer clothing to have a bit of wiggle room so the air can easily circulate through to your skin. Even the layer closest to your skin, such as a pair of cotton shorts or a linen tank, should be a little loose to allow for air flow.

Think Light Colored: During the day when the sun is blazing, keep the outer layer of your clothing on the light end of the spectrum or pure white. Darker colors absorb heat and transfer that heat inward toward your skin, warming you up when you'd prefer to be cooling down. Light colors reflect much of the heat and the difference will be felt in your comfort levels at high noon.

Wear Wicking Fabrics: There's no getting around it — sweat happens in summer. But wicking fabrics are your best defense against the hottest, most humid days. Naturally-wicking linen is the oldest fabric created by man and does a stellar, stylish job of keeping you cool. But modern and fashionable performance fabric options abound in sportswear, casual styles and even dressier looks. Made from synthetic blends that breathe, repel water and draw water away from the skin simultaneously, these fabrics help keep you cool and dry on hot days, whether you are jogging, hiking or lounging in the backyard. When layering with performance fabrics, make sure they comprise the innermost layer next to your skin so they can fulfill their intended purpose.

Layering with Linen: With its unmatched breathability and prized cooling properties, linen is the quintessential summer material. Linen clothing naturally wicks perspiration away from your body towards the air where it can evaporate. Humans have been weaving the all-natural textile from threads made by spun fibers of the flax plant for at least 30,000 years. The fabric is incredibly strong and durable, which results in linen shirts, pants and skirts that last for years when well taken care of, but is also the root cause of the fabric's notorious wrinkling. Consider embracing the requisite crinkles as testament to the laissez-faire spirit of summer and enjoy keeping cool with this crumple-chic look. A linen caveat: Because the fabric excels at keeping you cool, those extra layers are a must when wearing linen in air conditioned environments to avoid uncomfortable chills.

Swap Out Your Belt: Consider switching up your solid leather belt for a skinny belt, a patterned canvas belt, or an openwork knit belt. These will add texture and color to a pair of khaki pants or linen shorts while allowing for more air flow around your waist. Pro-style tip: Half tuck your top so the belt is visible.

Wear a Scarf or Bandana: While scarves are more closely associated with winter, the right wrap can add a bonus layer of lightness and a vivid pop of color to a tee or sundress. The scarf material should be lightweight, the weave or knit should be airy, and you should wrap or drape it loosely so air can circulate around you. The best materials for summer scarves are linen, silk, cotton, bamboo, or lace. Another option is tying a lightweight bandana around your neck, or having one peeking from a pocket, at the ready. This adds color and style, while blocking sweat and even keeping irritating bugs away.

Color and Pattern: Layering in summer gives you the chance to add color and prints to your style without adding too much weight. It's a breeze to add contrasting color, texture and patterns to your outfit with scarves, bandanas, lightweight cardigans, and even patterned socks made with wicking materials.

Layering For Women:

  1. Blazer: Business doesn't get a day off in the heat and sometimes a more formal look is required. Linen or lightweight blazers are a good option for layering on hot days and as a bonus can bring a layer of texture or bright color to your ensemble.
  2. Knits and lace: When the weather gets hot, turn to openwork knits, needlepoint lace and mesh when you begin to tire of your usual summer outfits. Think of tunics with lace or mesh accents, knit tops over camisoles, or even a crocheted open-front cardigan.

Layering For Men:

  1. Open shirt: The button-up shirt left open over a tee is a classic summer layered look for men for good reason. It is a laid-back and handsome style that gives you options to put on and remove a layer when the need arises.
  2. Vests and Jackets: Even in extreme heat, sometimes business requires a vest or blazer. Thankfully, there are lightweight options such as linen, cotton and seersucker, all of which add a unique quality to your workday clothing without causing overheating.

Layering in summer is a minimalist art that boils down to choosing between one or two accent pieces. Don't overdo it, lest you add unwelcome heat and heaviness. Used wisely, however, summer layering will help you stay cool and look put together throughout the long, hot days of summer.